Sunday, 2 October 2016

Tuam Spirit Babies - Gina Arrigan

Swan feathers connected by ribbon 

The more this project unfolds, the more synchronicities, connections and miracles happen. It's actually astounding what's now happening on a daily basis and it's taking the time in between to offer acknowledgement and gratitude that's important.
Mother and baby at Luimnagh Pier

On Thursday afternoon I went for a walk by the lakeshore (we're very lucky to live so close to Lough Corrib) and right there at the pier were a family group of swans. Just watching the two parents interact and protect their baby was a privilege and again, a reminder of what comes so naturally, yet what was denied to thousands of people. After they'd got back into the water, the hunt was on for stray feathers. No luck.
Gina Arrigan
Next morning (our kitchen table craft morning) Gina Arrigan (amongst others) arrived at our house with a tissue paper bundle bearing a tiny hand knitted vest which she thinks belonged to her father. She's planning to dip it in a porcelain slip and once fired and framed it will form part of the exhibition. 
We've shared some very sacred evenings together and it was very interesting to hear how things are shifting for her but also how her mother once lived in Tuam and as a small girl remembered passing by the 'home' to see the babies out in the yard behind the gates. She'd often weep for them.

Gina spent most of the last few years caring for her parents who've both since passed away (her dad in January and her mum in April.) In the midst of this, there were times when they both needed to be soothed and cradled with a song, such a tender and beautiful act comes from a place of deep love and must have been such relief to them during their suffering. This is something which is so deeply embroidered into Irish life. There were songs for everything, music permeates everything and to hear that Gina's discovered the healing properties of her own voice through irish song is amazing. We'll all benefit from hearing them.

Broken swan feather to represent the broken mothers and two small feathers for the children
As she unfolded the papers surrounding her father's vest, she revealed six white swan feathers. (I nearly fell through the floor.) One which is broken and has now been mounted on a 5"x5" white square, it immediately conveys the broken aspect of the mothers from the 'Home.' The two smaller ones the children. The other three have been tied together to form a fan and a length of satin ribbon that someone else brought along that morning, binds them. Again, these lovely gifts were given because people felt something from them and immediately they connect us to each other, the past and the sacred spirit of family and swan. Beautiful.#Tuamspiritbabies
Swan feathers connected with satin ribbon

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